DORAL, Florida—MJ Maguire made birdies on his opening two holes during the final round of the Shell Open, and while the third-round leader had a few nervous moments coming down the stretch Sunday, Maguire never trailed and eventually won his first PGA TOUR Latinoamérica title by two strokes over Argentina’s Andrés Gallegos at Trump National Doral’s Golden Palm Course. The victory was worth 500 points and $31,500 as PGA TOUR Latinoamérica resumed its season that began in early March in Mexico.
“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet. It was a really tough day. It was a grind out there. I knew a three-shot lead could go in one hole. It’s nothing on a course like this,” said Maguire. “I just had to stay focused, and I did a really good job of that trying to think about every shot and execute as good as I could.”
Maguire stayed in command from the start on a beautiful, sunny South Florida afternoon, rolling in a birdie putt from four feet on No. 1 and canning a six-footer on No. 2. Gallegos, playing in the group behind Maguire, kept the pressure on the leader, matching Maguire’s birdie-birdie start with one of his own.
Both players parred No. 3 before both birdied the par-5 fourth hole. Gallegos’ momentum stalled on No. 5 when he bogeyed, one of two on his day. With a clean front-nine scorecard of five birdies and four pars, Maguire extended his lead to as many as five shots before Gallegos made a charge, with birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 13. The Argentine cut Maguire’s advantage to one shot on the par-5 16th, when he made birdie there. Maguire immediately responded minutes later when he birdied the same hole. Gallegos saw his chances at victory end on the par-3 17th when he missed the green with his tee shot and couldn’t get up and down, settling for a bogey.
“I didn’t look at the scoreboard once. I knew if I played well—if I shot 4- or 5-under today—nobody was going to catch me,” explained Maguire, who admitted he never knew how big or small his lead was during the round. “I don’t like to leaderboard watch. I’ve never found any benefit from it. I play aggressive anyway, so it wasn’t like I was going to back off just because I had a five-shot, six-shot lead. I was going to stay aggressive no matter what.”
Although disappointed to come up short, Gallegos knew what he was up against before the round even began. “MJ played really well and had an unbelievable week. He played very solid today, and I couldn’t catch him, but I’m pleased with the way I played,” Gallegos said. “Competing again on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica after nine months off and to finish second is something I cannot be upset about at all, especially with the type of golf I played this week. Now, I have to take advantage of this confidence and make the most of it next week in Puerto Plata.”
The Tour’s third event is the Puerto Plata Open in the Dominican Republic, site of Gallegos’ lone PGA TOUR Latinoamérica title—in 2018.
Maguire and Gallegos spent this summer playing on the LOCALiQ Series, a set of eight events established by the PGA TOUR in the Southeastern part of the U.S. The TOUR designed the LOCALiQ Series for players from the TOUR’s three International Tours in Canada, China and Latin America who saw their seasons cut short because of COVID-19. Maguire had a pair of top-five finishes in Florida on that circuit but never truly contended in in Jacksonville and Weston. That was not the case this week, as Maguire opened with a 2-under 69 then put his game in gear the rest of the way. He finished 66-66-67, just missing firing three consecutive 66s to close when he made a meaningless bogey on the 72nd hole that gave him his final, two-shot cushion.
Gallegos earned his second career runner-up finish—to go with his second-place showing at the 2018 Neuquén Argentina Classic. His performance this week matched his second consecutive top-10 on this course. He finished sixth at the 2019 Shell Championship when it was a limited-field, 60-player tournament.
Did you know MJ Maguire won the prestigious Southern Amateur at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2014? Maguire captured the 108th playing of the tournament, defeating Australian Geoff Drakeford and American Victor Perez by three shots. When the final round began, Maguire trailed 54-hole leader Beau Hossler by five shots.
Order of Merit Standings
Through Shell Open
|1||Alex Rocha (Brazil)||529|
|2||MJ Maguire (U.S.)||506|
|3||Álvaro Ortiz (Mexico)||338|
|4||Andrés Gallegos (Argentina)||337|
|5||Raul Pereda (Mexico)||240|
|6||Rowin Caron (Netherlands)||219|
|7||Chris Wiatr (U.S.)||217|
|8||Leandro Marelli (Argentina)||165|
|9||Joshua Lee (U.S.)||159|
|10||Brad Schneider (U.S.)||123|
- Low-round-of-the-day honors belonged to Andrés Gallegos and Joshua Lee, who both carded 6-under 65s. Lee moved up 10 positions on the leaderboard on the final day, into a tie for fourth with Brad Schneider. Lee’s performance is his career-best, bettering the tie for ninth he turned in at the 2019 Abierto de Chile.
- This was only Brad Schneider’s second career PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start. He missed the cut at the Estrella del Mar Open. Not only did he make the cut this week, he earned a top-five with his 71-66-69-67 showing that left him tied for fourth with Joshua Lee.
- Brad Schneider played in five of the eight LOCALiQ Series tournaments this summer, missing the cut in all five, results that make his showing this week at Doral even more impressive.
- Champion MJ Maguire, runner-up Andrés Gallegos and third-place finisher Chris Wiatr were the only players to shoot four rounds in the 60s this week. Of the three, Gallegos’ Sunday 65 was the low round turned in by any of the three.
- Four additional players had under-par rounds all four days: Santiago Gomez (tied for sixth), Drew Nesbitt (tied for sixth), Tommy Cocha (tied for 12th) and Brandon Matthews (tied for 18th).
- MJ Maguire dominated the Golden Palm’s four par-5s all week. With three birdies Sunday, he finished a cumulative 12-under for the week on holes 2, 4, 11 and 16. He finished 4-under on No. 2 (two birdies and an eagle) and had birdies all four days on No. 16.
- Chris Wiatr had a remarkable finish to his week, leading to his first top-10 on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica—a solo-third performance. With three holes to play, Wiatr was at even-par for the day and 8-under for the tournament. All he did over his final three holes was go eagle-birdie-birdie, the putts on his final two holes totalling 52 feet (32-footer on 17 and 20 feet on 18). The Connecticut native finished at 12-under to move to seventh on the Order of Merit.
- Even with his strong, 4-under finish, Chris Wiatr noted his 14th hole as one that kept his round alive. After he snap-hooked his drive into the trees, he got a break when the ball hit a tree and bounced back into the rough. From there, Wiatr hit his approach shot to six inches for the tap-in birdie.
- Toni Hakula rebounded nicely from his disappointing, 4-over 75 Saturday after holding a share of the 36-hole lead. Hakula fired a 5-under 67 Sunday to tie for 12th.
- Mexico’s Raúl Pereda and Argentina’s Leandro Marelli are the only players to post top-10s in each of the first two PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tournaments this season. Pereda and Marelli both tied for eighth this week after Pereda tied for third and Marelli tied for seventh at the Estrella del Mar Open in Mazatlan in March.
- Alex Rocha, winner of the season-opening Estrella del Mar Open in March, maintained his Order of Merit lead by tying for 28th this week. He maintains a 23-point advantage over MJ Maguire. Of the 10 players who finished inside the top-10 in Mazatlan, only Ryan McCormick didn’t play this week.
- This was Drew Nesbitt’s second consecutive top-10 at Trump National Doral’s Golden Palm Course. A year ago, at the Shell Championship, the Canadian tied for 10th. His tie for sixth this week is his best PGA TOUR Latinoamérica finish since he won the 2019 Abierto Mexicano de Golf.
Leave a Reply